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Capitals-Panthers Preview @NHLdotcom
Capitals-Panthers Preview

GAME: Washington Capitals (8-14-2) at Florida Panthers (7-14-4).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

Both the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers have struggled to get any sort of rhythm going early this season.

The Capitals hope to end a four-game losing streak as they visit the equally woeful Panthers.

Washington and Florida are tied for the worst record in the Eastern Conference with 18 points apiece. The Capitals have lost four in a row and eight of 10. The Panthers have won only once in their last 15 contests.

The inability to hold leads, too many penalties and poor special teams are plaguing the Capitals.

Washington is 2-5 in games in which it scores first and is committing an average of 20 penalties a game, third-most in the NHL.

The Capitals are 29th on the power play (12 percent) - one spot behind Florida (12.7 percent) - despite having one of the NHL's most promising offensive talents in Alexander Ovechkin.

He leads all rookies with 15 goals and is second to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby among rookies with 25 points.

Ovechkin extended his points streak to four games with an assist on Sunday, but the Capitals fell 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres. Steve Eminger and Matt Pettinger each had a goal for Washington.

Florida has lost two straight since snapping a 12-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Friday.

The Panthers lost to Toronto 2-1 on Monday despite outshooting the Maple Leafs 35-26.

Florida has been held to two goals or fewer, including three shutouts, in 10 of its 18 losses.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 30): Capitals - 18 points, 4th place (tied), 15 PB, Southeast Division. Panthers - 18 points, 4th place (tied), 15 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Ovechkin, 15 goals and 25 points; Jeff Halpern, 15 assists; Brendan Witt, 68 PIM. Panthers - Olli Jokinen, 10 goals, 12 assists and 22 points; Chris Gratton and Branislav Mezei, 37 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 30): Capitals - Power play: 12.0 percent (16 for 133), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.1 percent (145 for 181), 24th (tied). Panthers - Power play: 12.7 percent (18 for 141), 28th. Penalty killing: 79.8 percent (127 for 159), 26th.

GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (7-9-2, 0 SO, 3.48 GAA); Brent Johnson (1-4-0, 0, 5.34). Panthers - Luongo (7-12-4, 2, 3.15); Jamie McLennan (0-2-0, 0, 2.91).

SEASON SERIES: Panthers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 20; Panthers, 3-2. At Sunrise, Fla., Anthony Stewart and Mike Van Ryn scored on power plays, and Juraj Kolnik added a short-handed goal to lead the Panthers over the Capitals. Ovechkin scored both goals for Washington.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 2-9-1 on the road; Panthers - 5-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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